Revisionist History on Testing in Admissions

Some folks talk out of both sides of their mouths when it comes to the consideration of testing in highly selective college admissions.

Talk about revisionist history! For decades, many folks claimed that the SAT and ACT unfairly advantaged the privileged. Their argument? High school students from families of means could receive tutoring for these exams. These folks, of course, were right. In spite of what College Board, the maker of the SAT, and ACT, Inc., the maker of the ACT, insisted for years, the SAT and ACT are coachable exams. With great tutoring, students’ scores can often skyrocket. We, of course, have seen it firsthand. So allow us to scratch our heads when folks are now suggesting that the elimination of the SAT or ACT requirement in highly selective college admissions makes the process less equitable.

Some Argue Absence of SAT and ACT in Admissions Fosters Inequity

As Janet Lorin reports for Bloomberg Wealth in a piece entitled “SATs, Once Hailed as Ivy League Equalizers, Fall From Favor,” “While many students are delighted [that the SAT and ACT are currently not required for admission], some counselors worry that the scarcity of scores could add to growing inequality in American higher education. The reason: Wealthier students can game more subjective measures. They can hire consultants to sharpen their essays, and their school counselors tend to have the time and expertise to write recommendations that will catch an admissions officer’s eye.”

Yet So Many For So Long Argued the SAT and ACT Foster Inequity

People, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too! And, hello, irrespective of whether the SAT or ACT is required in admissions or not, students from families of means are still going to work with private college consultants. Students from families of means are still going to go to high schools with lower student to counselor ratios. Students from families of means are still often going to have teachers who put more care in their letters of recommendation. So why are these folks conflating all of these facts with the elimination of the SAT / ACT testing requirement in admissions? How could the SAT and ACT be unfair barometers that advantaged the privileged just last year and now the absence of these exams in admissions decision-making is also unfair? We’ve got a headache. These folks, unsurprisingly, are talking out of both sides of their mouths while they eat cake. And we all know it’s very important to chew with one’s mouth closed shut.


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1 Comment

  • Joe Washington says:

    Your SAT prep course may be beneficial, but, as an educator, I have seen the great majority of in-person and online prep courses fail students of all backgrounds. Blacks and Hispanics have historically performed poorly on these tests, and being that they are usually from lower income households, the usual popular names culprit is ‘lack of resources’. Not really and not in my family’ case. Studies have shown that those URM’s with access to test-prep programs, have NOT performed better than before the testing. In fact, one of my children did WORSE on their SAT after test-prep and the other did 10 points better. For full disclosure, my children and I are black. Our experience mirrors many other URM I know, personally. We, as URM’s just do not do too well on standardized tests! But we are good at many other things! That is the truth. Colleges know this and are trying to tip the scales in our favor. Is that good? Probably, because the way it stands, only the Asians would be admitted to elite schools. Asians of all income levels have been gaming the system, legally, for decades, by constantly practicing for these tests from a very young age via brutal repetition. That was not what the tests were made for. The fact that Asians are now suing for equity in admissions based solely on their high average test scores is rather absurd and has forced the issue for schools to take sides; either elite schools say ‘yes, we are admitting URM’s with lower standards,’ and concede that the Asian-proponent lawsuits have merit or, much easier, eliminate the tests altogether so that Asians’ lawsuits are dismissed summarily! SO, Ironically, the lawsuits Asians hoped would benefit their community, have now eliminated the one privilege they have relied on for decades, testing!

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